April 2002 News

24 seats still reserved for PoK in J&K House

6 April 2002
The Statesman

Jammu: There are 24 seats reserved for areas of Kashmir under Pakistani occupation. This despite the continuous Pak bashing by chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah. The seats have been lying vacant since 1957 when the first state constituent assembly was elected. Before this, the state had a praja sabha, nominations for which were made by the then state government. J&K Speaker Mr Abdul Ahad Vakil said that in 1957, under Section 47 of the J&K Constitution, 100 seats were kept in the legislature chosen through direct elections from the territorial constituencies of the state. of these 100 seats, 25 seats were kept reserved for areas of arst while Jammu and Kashmir state, some of which came under Pakistani occupation later. "Under Section 4 of the J&K Constitution, the state comprise territories which on 15 August 1947 were under the sovereignty of the state ruler. These included Gilgit, Hunza, Nagar, Yasin, Ponial, Chitral, Skardu, Mirpur, Kotli, Muzaffarrabad, Bhimber, bagh, Sadhunti etc," Mr Vakil said. Initially, 25 seats were kept for PoK areas. Through the 12th amendment of the J&K Constitution, the figure came down to 24. Seats for rest of the state were increased from 75 to 76 in 1975. After delimitation of Assembly constituencies in 1988, the number of seats were increased to 87. Currently, the total strength of the J&K House is 111 seats. There has, however, been no change in the number of seats reservation for the PoK. The argument put forward is that there cannot be any delimitation in PoK as the areas are under Pakistan occupation. The J&K Constitution is clear on the reservation of these 24 seats for PoK. Section 48 clearly states: "Not-withstanding anything contained in Section 47, until the areas occupied by Pakistan ceases to be so occupied and the people residing in that area elect their representatives, 24 seats in the Assembly shall remain vacant and shall not be taken into account for reckoning the total membership of the House. Besides the said areas shall be excluded in delimiting the territorial constituencies under Section 47." In 1994, the Parliament adopted a resolution saying areas falling in the PoK were part of Jammu and Kashmir and the government would work to get get back those areas from the illegal occupation of Pakistan. But nothing has been done as yet, allege locals. Mr Balraj Puri, human rights activists, said no efforts are being made to get back those areas and reserving these seats for PoK is nothing but a myth.


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